Ecommerce Retailers Embrace Alternate Pickup Locations to Save Shoppers on Shipping
Last Updated Aug 2, 2023
Many online retailers have begun to accept that they will need to offer flexible, convenient options in order to keep customers happy. One such adaptation is that of alternative pickup locations.
While some retailers may have been resistant to the change early on, many online businesses have now embraced the option for BOPIS, even if they don’t have an official, physical storefront. Now, companies are finding that this model is a win-win for both the consumer and the retailer.
Why Shoppers Love Using Alternative Pickup Locations
Shoppers have many reasons to be happy about the shift toward more BOPIS and alternate pickup locations. This method of delivery solves many of the major issues surrounding home delivery in the following ways.
Less Chance of Packages Being Stolen
The incidence of packages being stolen from doorsteps has sharply risen over the past few years. In some cases, package thieves will follow behind a delivery truck and scoop up each package as it is delivered to the consumer’s doorstep. In an article by The New York Post from November, it was reported that roughly 210 million packages had been stolen from doorsteps in 2021.
While many delivery services and carriers started implementing policies such as taking photographs of the package sitting on the doorstep, this did little to stop the issue of theft. Alternate pickup locations, on the other hand, are much more secure and thieves have a much tougher time stealing packages from behind a counter at a retail location.
Convenience for Shoppers
According to Statista, the primary reason why shoppers are choosing BOPIS options and alternative pickup locations is convenience. Shoppers who have busy work and personal lives can use alternative pickup locations in a way that compliments their packed schedules. They can shop online at any time, day or night, then select a convenient day and time for pickup.
With many of the pickup spots being located only a few miles from consumers' homes, the whole process is convenient all around.
Shipping to a centralized location is much more economical than is home delivery for both retailers and consumers. As with any change, if it involves decreased cost, customers and brands alike tend to readily agree to the change.
In fact, according to a report by McKinsey & Company, the majority (over 60%) of online shoppers prefer BOPIS or alternative pickup locations to home delivery due to the decreased overall costs of shipping.
Hurdles to Alternate Pickup Locations
While alternative pickup locations are becoming accepted and appreciated by consumers and retailers, the option comes with it’s fair share of challenges.
During the holidays and other peak times when order numbers increase dramatically, the alternative pickup locations need to be equipped to handle a large number of customers coming to the store all at once to collect their items.
As is also the case with home delivery, returns of any kind can put a strain on the reverse logistics capabilities of a company. Some retailers are also offering BORIS (Buy Online Return in Store) options in addition to their BOPIS/alternative pickup location capabilities.
Returns are always a frustrating and inconvenient problem for companies to solve. How these returns will be handled with regards to alternate pickup locations will bear some consideration over the next few years, as online ordering and the popularity of BOPIS is expected to continue to grow in popularity.
Supply Chain Issues
With continued logjams and supply chain disruptions, it doesn’t matter much if orders are delivered to the home or to an alternative location. Companies are still dealing with the fallout from the seemingly endless supply chain issues, and some items are expected to be in short supply for some time to come.
Essential Components of a Successful Alternative Pickup Location Model
There are a number of elements that must be included to ensure that alternative pickup locations are implemented successfully. Going into the process without pre-planning is a recipe for disaster.
Clear Directions for Customers
Depending on the location in question, customers may be confused as to where they need to go in order to retrieve their item. The use of clear signage, as well as email or app notifications, can help to direct customers and limit confusion when they first use the service.
Furthermore, whatever mechanism the store uses to allow customers to retrieve the goods needs to be intuitive. Storage lockers and over-the-counter options are popular, but the staff and customers need to be able to easily understand how to use these services in order to retrieve their purchases.
Pickup Locations Where Customers Want Them
In 2020, Best Buy announced that they would be offering alternative pickup locations at nearly 16,000 locations besides official best buy stores. Their partners included companies such as CVS and Michaels, to name just a few. As a result of their success with the venture, Best Buy has served as a model for how to successfully implement alternative pickup location services.
Furthermore, Best Buy indicated that most of these pickup locations were within just a few miles of shoppers' homes. Therefore, if they didn’t live close to a Best Buy, they could still easily collect their items in a convenient, safe manner from one of the retailer’s partners.
As with many things over the past few years, retail has changed drastically. Alternative pickup locations are becoming well-liked by both consumers and businesses. By all accounts, it appears that this trend is here to stay.